When quiet, bookish Izzy Simon accepts a two-week assignment as an assistant for an author of children’s books, it seems like the perfect way for her to make some much-needed extra money, but the grumpy author claims he doesn’t want or need her services. He might be as handsome as a storybook prince, but his prickly personality and resistance to all things Christmas are sure to make for a chilly holiday season.
Derek Croft never agreed to the cheery temp his staff arranges for him while they’re on vacation. Izzy is his polar opposite, but Derek soon realizes she could be the perfect solution to his interfering family…if he can get her to agree to pretend to be his live-in girlfriend. Before long Izzy’s sweet disposition and unflappable optimism has him decorating a tree and looking forward to late night hot cocoa, but he’s all too aware their time together can’t last.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
Contemporary Romance Author Charlee James was introduced to a life-long love of reading listening to her parents recite nightly stories to her and her older sister. Inspired by the incredible imaginations of authors like Bill Peet, Charlee could often be found crafting her own tales. As a teenager, she got her hands on a romance novel and was instantly hooked by the genre.
After graduating from Johnson&Wales University, her early career as a wedding planner gave her first-hand experience with couples who had gone the distance for love. Always fascinated by family dynamics, Charlee began writing heartwarming novels with happily-ever-afters.
Charlee is a New England native who lives with her husband, daughters, two rambunctious dogs, a cat, and numerous reptiles. When she’s not spending time with her tight-knit family, she enjoys curling up with a book, practicing yoga, and collecting Boston Terrier knick-knacks.
Read an Excerpt
Isabel Simon almost swallowed her tongue when she pulled up the long, winding cobblestone drive. The clearing at the end opened to a grand fountain that had seen better days. Behind it loomed the closest thing to a castle she'd ever encountered. It stole her breath as she craned her head to get a full view. Three gothic towers speared up to the sky, lined with dark arched windows that showed nothing of the inside.
She got out of her car and exhaled deeply, the rush of breath sending a white puff into the frost-laced air. She inhaled through her nose, and the icy wind danced down her throat. She could do this. She could spend Christmas and the weeks leading up to it on her first assignment as a temporary assistant. It was no wonder the agency had been eager to hire her despite her lack of formal training. Who would want to work over the holidays? Most people were eager to have the time off with their families and special someones.
Not that Izzy didn't have anyone. She had Gram, and wasn't it enough to have one person who you could count on to care? There were days, though, when she liked to daydream about being swept off her feet by someone who adored her, who maybe had a sense of humor and a kind spirit. Happily-ever-afters certainly existed. The bookworm in her made it hard to think otherwise. But not for her, it seemed. She'd had a chance at love, but it had unfortunately been one-sided. Heat rose to her cheeks, and she shook her head to jiggle away the memory.
She glanced back at her rusted old hatchback that had sputtered and coughed into the driveway. The pile of metal reminded her that she needed the money this job would provide. If only the temp agency had given her a heads-up that she'd be arriving at a stone mansion, complete with scowling gargoyles. She tugged at the hem of her red jacket as she made her way to the door. She would have dressed up a bit if she'd been informed of the storybook setting — even if it was a bit creepy with dormant ivy snaking up the tall spires.
Izzy raised her left hand and knocked. The sound got lost in the thick wood. She tried again, rapping her knuckles against the unforgiving door. A moment passed, then another. Perhaps the owner had stepped out or had an emergency. She was about to turn and walk back to her car when she heard a low-pitched bark from inside.
She tensed as the door creaked open. The house was dark, and the shadow behind the doorframe was tall and masculine. He stepped into the light, and the reason she was standing on the doorstep was zapped from her mind. He was simply the most handsome man she'd ever seen. Slashes of black brows arched over onyx eyes. Her gaze dropped down the hard planes of his face to full lips set into a scowl. Izzy didn't dare look lower. She could already see the blur of broad shoulders and a hard chest.
"Can I help you with something?" His voice was low, gruff, and very annoyed.
Izzy tightened her grip on the duffle bag she was holding. "I'm Isabel Simon." No recognition flickered across his face, but his scowl deepened. "I'm to be your personal assistant for the next two weeks." Was she at the wrong address? "Maybe they put 'Izzy' on the paperwork — most people call me that."
His brows furled together. "I certainly didn't request a temp." He set his hands on his hips.
Great. What should she do now? She was in the middle of nowhere with an ornery homeowner who looked as if he wanted to boot her off his doorstep. Another bark sounded from inside the house, and a giant head pushed aside the man's leg to squeeze out. A grizzly bear of a dog lumbered onto the step with her. His tail ticked back and forth as he looked at her with kind, drooping eyes. The dog nudged its nose into her hand, and Izzy crouched to scratch behind his ears. At least someone was friendly here. For a moment, she was lost in slobbery licks and soft fur.
The man cleared his throat. "Some guard dog."
Standing quickly, Izzy brushed off her pants and tried a smile. "He's beautiful. A St. Bernard, right?"
"Right." This one clearly wasn't much for words. Her cell phone said more when she asked it a question. She certainly wouldn't have to worry about getting off task with her duties, if he ever let her inside the house.
"Atticus, back inside." The dog slowly plodded back into the house.
"To Kill a Mockingbird." Izzy smiled now, her librarian's heart gratified. "One of my favorites."
He didn't take to the pleasantry. "I didn't ask for a personal assistant." He began to close the door, and something made her jump forward. Maybe it was because she desperately needed the money, or maybe she didn't want to swallow her pride and tell the agency the client hadn't wanted her — just another thread in the string of rejections she'd received throughout her life, starting with her own mother. Well, not today.
"I was booked for two weeks as an assistant to Derek Croft, at Five Shady Glenn. It wouldn't be fair to cancel now, before the holidays." The biting wind tousled her hair, and she rubbed her hands together for warmth.
"I'm Derek Croft, and it wouldn't be canceling if I didn't request anyone in the first place," he grumbled, and jerked down the cuff of his shirt.
She bit her bottom lip. Convincing him would be like playing a game of tug-of-war against an entire football team. "Perhaps someone booked it for you as a gift?" Izzy must have hit the mark because his stony face flinched ever so slightly. For a moment, she thought he was going to slam the door, but he stepped back, picked up his cell phone, and punched in a number. Izzy leaned over to scratch behind Atticus's ears and tried not to eavesdrop.
"I gave you and Sebastian the holidays off. I'm not helpless here, Marie." He lowered his voice, but she could still hear the conversation. "Now there's a woman standing on my doorstep looking for work. What on earth am I supposed to have her do for two weeks?"
He shook his head and clicked off the line. The knot in Izzy's stomach untangled some. At least she was where she was supposed to be, regardless of the welcome she'd received.
"It, ah, looks like my well-intentioned house staff thought this would be a good Christmas gift. I have nothing for you to do here." He stood with one hand in his pocket and the other on the doorknob.
Izzy's shoulders relaxed. He couldn't turn her away now. She took advantage of the statement and stepped inside the house.
"For starters, we could get some light in here." She could barely make out the splendid curved rails of the staircase and the massive chandelier that hung overhead. "Do you have family coming for the holidays?"
Derek tucked both his hands into his pants pockets. "My father, his new wife, and her daughter."
"I can help get the house ready for the holidays, and I can find my way around the kitchen. You won't have to lift a finger." Izzy held her breath.
His forehead creased as he studied her. "Well, you're here now. I'll show you around, but then I have to get back to work." He swung the front door shut, and a deafening thud echoed off the high ceilings.
Some of the tension in the back of her neck eased. She wasn't going to be sent away with her tail tucked between her legs. She darted after him to keep up with his long strides. "What do you do?"
"Children's author." He slid open a large door to reveal a sitting area with buttery leather furniture positioned around a fireplace.
Izzy choked down a laugh. A children's author. He was such a grump, it was hard to imagine him writing a tale for a little one. "Oh, I love books, which makes sense because in my day job I'm a librarian."
The homeowner turned and narrowed his eyes. "Aren't you an assistant?" His tone dripped with so much distrust that Izzy bristled.
"Just part-time. You know, for some extra cash to float me through the holidays." Her cheeks instantly heated. Of course, he didn't know. He lived in a castle surrounded by luxury.
Derek let out low humph that sounded partially like dismissal and partially like a groan she'd expect to hear out of the dog that followed at their heels. He turned back toward the room. "This is the sitting area. You can use the fireplaces. There are eight of them in the house."
Izzy leaned in to get a closer look, then stepped back when his scent, something fresh and entirely male, tickled her nose. Why couldn't the client have been a sweet old man, or bald and frumpy? Instead, she had to trail a dark-featured version of Thor, who had the disposition of a porcupine, around the endless mansion while trying to avert her eyes from his backside. He stopped abruptly, and Izzy rammed into him like a clumsy ape. "Sorry," she mumbled. Her cheeks and the tips of her ears were probably the color of a new fire engine.
Izzy had a job to do, and she had no business thinking about the rock-solid body she'd just nearly barreled over. Guys like him didn't go for girls like her. Her mother had been blessed with rich blond hair, crystal-blue eyes, and miles of confidence, while Izzy had waves of mousy-brown hair that never stayed in place, and ordinary brown eyes. A pain ricocheted through her chest. If she'd favored her mom, been prettier, maybe her attempt at finding love in college with Brett might have gone differently.
"This is the kitchen. My staff left the fridge stocked, but if you find something missing, you can call the grocery store to deliver it." He stopped just inside the room with his hands on his hips.
The kitchen was a dream, with a six-burner stove, a double oven, and a fridge that could hold enough food for a banquet. The stainless-steel appliances were flanked by rows of deep cherry-colored cabinets and granite countertops that were swirled with honey and chocolate colors. Every surface shone, including the center island. The children's book business must be good, or he came from money. Either way, Izzy was far more comfortable nestled on the couch in her one-bedroom apartment with a good book and a cup of tea than she was here in such ... opulence.
Derek walked back to the main hallway and strode up the stairs, as Izzy and the dog trailed behind him. Atticus would be her buddy for the week. She longed for a dog or cat, but her apartment didn't allow it. Her gram had been allergic, so she hadn't been able to have one growing up, either. She just admired them from afar and envied the people who were able to keep them.
Once upstairs, Derek walked her down a long hallway. "This is the west wing," he said.
It was chillier here than on the first floor, and Izzy rubbed a hand up and down her arm.
"I keep the heat off at this end of the house, as I stay on the north side." He paused in front of a doorway that looked like all the others. His frown deepened into a scowl. "You can explore the house, but this room is off-limits."
"What's in there?" She couldn't help herself from asking, and his brows instantly knit together.
"If I wanted you to know, it wouldn't be off-limits." He started moving down the hall, and Izzy had to power walk like Jillian Michaels to keep up. This was going to be a very long two weeks.
"This will be your room. There are clean sheets in the closet. I have to get back to work. I'm on a deadline, and I've already been interrupted." He checked his watch and huffed.
"Should I make dinner? What time do you typically eat?" she asked. Some instructions as to her duties would have been nice, but they were both flying by the seats of their pants.
"Seven." Mr. Personality disappeared, and Izzy was left staring at a large four-poster bed in a room that was bigger than her entire apartment. A sitting area with a chaise lounge sat by the window and faced another fireplace. The dog followed her into the room and brushed up against her side.
"Home, sweet home, boy." She ran a hand down his head. Funny how she was more at ease conversing with the dog than his owner. The adjoining room had a gorgeous claw-foot tub that she'd love to sink right into, yet another fireplace, and a vanity.
What was it like to have this kind of wealth? Growing up, Gram had made sure Izzy had everything she needed, but money had always been tight. She had worked hard, well past the age she should've retired, to provide for Izzy, who was born to a teenage mom with more important things to do than to raise a child. It was one of the reasons Izzy was compelled to help Gram pay for her retirement at Silver Acres. It had been three years since she'd helped Gram move into her apartment there, and for three years, she'd hobbled along financially.
Gram's face had just lit up when they went on a tour of the sprawling community with its gardens and pergolas. The nursing staff onsite put Izzy at ease, too, and the facility provided meals. Gram was a lot of beautiful things, but a cook was not one of them. When they'd reviewed the costs with an agent, Izzy had known Gram could never afford it, so she'd given her a leg up and insisted on splitting the bill each month. Izzy was thrilled that Gram was content and happy, but she'd grossly underestimated how much it would stretch her finances to foot half the rent. She was going to have a coronary if she kept eating cheap, sodium-laden noodles every night. At least here she'd be in charge of what went on the dinner table.
It was a win-win that Silver Acres was only a half-hour drive from the castle where she was to reside for the holidays. Izzy was taking her vacation days off at Christmas this year, so her coworker could enjoy an extended honeymoon in the spring. She could earn some extra money and still see Gram. Derek would surely give her a few hours off, right? Her phone beeped, and she glanced down.
Bingo tonight with Mr. Johnson. Wish this old bird some luck.
Izzy's grin stretched ear to ear. Gram had learned to text, had a schoolgirl crush on her neighbor, Mr. Johnson, and was so happy it made Izzy's heart sprout tiny wings. Gram would be staying at Silver Acres, even if Izzy had to sell a kidney on the black market to keep her there. She checked the time on her phone and unzipped her duffle bag. She would unpack before trying to figure out what to prepare for dinner. How did this even work? Was she supposed to sit and eat with him, or lay out his meal and disappear into the background? Her stomach grumbled at the thought of food, and the dog shot her a concerned glance.
"Oh, don't tell me your belly never growls." She scratched his side and realized it probably didn't, as he was quite plump. "I bet you like table scraps, huh?" The look in the dog's eyes intensified, and he nudged forward. Izzy laughed. "Let's go find you a treat."
She got turned around in the maze of the house more than a few times before simply following Atticus, who led her straight to the kitchen. After rooting through some cabinets, she unearthed a jar of milk bones. He sat patiently as she twisted off the top and then took them gingerly from her hand. Now for the humans. She opened the fridge and looked around for a moment, before deciding on chicken and broccoli in Alfredo sauce. She lined up the necessary ingredients and put a pot of water on the stove to boil. In the pantry, she found a box of fettuccine. She wanted to do a good job, not only because she was hired to do so, but also because a trickle of guilt had curled into her stomach when Derek's eyes had told her loud and clear she was unwanted here. At times, she liked to be alone, too. What if he'd been looking forward to this week free of staff, and she'd stomped in and stripped away his privacy? Maybe after having some time to brood, he'd be a tad more pleasant. Either way, she was in too deep at this point. There was no turning back.
Derek cursed his house attendants more than once as he tapped his pen against the blank notepad. Why couldn't he just enjoy some peace and quiet? The next few weeks were supposed to provide hours of uninterrupted time to work on his next series. He'd been filled with ideas and inspiration until the knock on the door wiped everything from his mind and left it indefinably blank. The woman he'd found standing in his entryway had miles of chestnut hair that curled gently down her shoulders, and large inquisitive eyes flecked with gold.
Marie had assured him that Isabel Simon had gone through a rigorous background check at the agency, but he didn't like the idea of a stranger wandering his halls. The only reason he kept Marie and Sebastian, apart from the fact that he liked them, was because they'd been with his family since he was a young boy. They knew him better than anyone, including when he needed his space. He was guarded for a reason. People weren't always what they seemed, including the ones you loved most.
Isabel wasn't loud, or boisterous, or bothersome, but each time he tried to write, his mind wandered. Her mere presence in the house veered him off task. He didn't like the idea of someone looking through his personal things or snooping all over the house. Derek was just waiting to be interrupted, as if at any moment, a knock would sound on the door and he'd be ripped away from the project he was focusing on.
Excerpted from "The Bookworm and the Beast"
Copyright © 2017 Charlee James.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Izzy Simon accepts a 2 week assignment to assist a children’s book author. He’s the gruff to her cheerfulness. She eventually starts to wear on him and he finds himself bending a little bit to her ways. I really wanted to like this book. Unfortunately, it reminded me very much like a book I read about a year ago. Same set up, situation, and personalities. Because of that, it made it very hard for me to get into it. **I voluntarily read and reviewed this book
Hands down, this is my favorite Beauty and the Beast retelling. Okay, I think I’ve only read one other, but this one was a total winner in my book. You have Izzy, the very determined woman who accepts a job through a temp agency working for Derek. Then you have Derek, the man who never wanted a temp, but thanks to his meddling staff (whom he’d given the holidays off) he now has. Derek was dark and brooding, full of backstory. Izzy was bright and optimistic, with her own sad backstory as well. They were fleshed out enough that they weren’t JUST characters in the book, they had layers and personality. You know how in the original Disney version of Beauty and the Beast where suddenly he starts to warm up to her and if you blink you miss that moment where annoyance turns to admiration? I saw that little spark in this book. This book adds and extra layer with a little plot twist in which Izzy is asked by Derek to pretend to be his girlfriend in order to get his stepmother to stop trying to set him up with every girl she can think of. It was great! For me, this was the perfect holiday romance slash (modern) fairy tale adaptation.
There’s no denying that this is a retelling of Beauty and the Beast but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. While there are no big surprises, there’s a certain awwww feeling when the author uses something out of the original and tweaks it a bit. Derek is gruff and not very friendly but he’s hiding his more princely qualities behind a lot of hurt feelings from his childhood. Izzy has her own issues thanks to her mother and tends to run away when pushed (which grumpy Derek does more than once) but she really needs the money that she’ll get working for him. Time spent alone over the holidays has them growing closer but until they can figure out a way to resolve their pasts they’ll never have their HEA. For those who love old Disney fairytales, I think this one will be a winner. *** I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. ***
Rating: 4.5/5 This is a delightful, festive, fairytale-type contemporary romance. Abandoned by her Mum, Isabel Simon was raised by her Gram who now lives very happily in an expensive retirement home. Isabel is endeavouring to meet half of her Gram’s fees but her job as a librarian doesn’t pay a lot and she’s struggling. In an effort to ensure she can keep paying, Isabel takes a short term job over the festive season working as an assistant to a man who lives alone. He is Derek Croft and, when she arrives at his castle like home, he is rude, abrupt and claims he doesn’t want any assistance! However, a call from his stepmother makes him reconsider - Izzy’d be great at thwarting his stepmother’s matchmaking endeavours. The only problem will be convincing Izzy to help by pretending to be his girlfriend for the holiday season . . . . . This is a brilliant contemporary retelling of Beauty and the Beast, an endearing version where pretending to be a couple helps them envisage being one for real . . . . A story where the reticent, bookish heroine endeavours to melt the heart of this prickly hero, bringing back memories of happier times, helping him to celebrate Christmas again. Can she succeed? Can she win his heart - and does she want to as he’s such a grumpy, contrary man? This is a sweet modern retelling of the classic story with great characters - including a fabulous canine friend - just right to escape into when you want something a little festive, whatever the season really is! I hadn’t read anything by this author before but I’ll certainly endeavour to do so in future. I requested and received a copy of this novel, via NetGalley. This is my honest review after choosing to read it.
For being Charlee James’ debut novel, The Bookworm and the Beast is sure to make you all modern fairy tale lovers happy with this retelling of Beauty and the Beast. At the very beginning we get to meet Izzy Simon a quiet bookworm whose Christmas holiday has been put on hold when she accepts a job as an assistant to Derek Croft. Wanting to make some extra money for the holidays, she never imagined that Derek would end up being a handsome but grumpy author who also happens to write children’s books. But when he makes it clear that he doesn’t need her, she is ready to go back home when he suddenly makes her a proposition that would end up benefiting both; to be his live-in girlfriend for the holidays. Yet everything starts to change the minute they start to get to know more about each other that would lead to them developing feelings for one another. Derek Croft doesn’t have much of a Christmas spirit, he is happy with how his life is with his dog as a companion, but when Izzy arrives to his house as his assistant he starts to doubt the life that he has created for himself. He finds himself wanting to make her happy and that could end hurting them both in the end. Nevertheless, Derek is happy to spend time with her but when trust is broken between them he’ll have to decide if a relationship is worth it or not in the end. I very much enjoyed reading this story, both of the characters have their own pasts and they somehow are able to help each other move on from them. The whole book has a Beauty and the Beast vibe that I’m sure a lot of people are going to love. The author has done a good job making the characters relatable which made them that much more interesting to read. Izzy is caring and a hardworking woman who happens to be love books and her relationship with her grandmother. While Derek can be a jerk at times, he is totally swoon worthy when he lets loose with Izzy. He has his own demons that he needs to overcome, and all he needed was a push from her to make him see what’s important in his life. Though the two are polar opposites, they compliment each other and their relationship ends up working so well. I absolutely loved the ending, you will not want to miss it! :) ***ARC provided by Entangled Publishing via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
The Bookworm and the Beast is by Charlee James. Isabel Simon was raised by her Gram, her mother never having any interest in being a part of her life. Isabel’s Gram loved her and worked very hard to provide for her. But Isabel still always wondered why she wasn’t wanted by her own mother. Then, in college, she was again hurt by a boy she gave her heart to. After that she vowed that the hurt wasn’t worth it. Now, she has a job as a librarian and lives a quiet life in her small apartment. Her Gram is living in a retirement home and Izzy, wanting to repay her for all she did for her, is paying for half of the rent. But it’s taking a toll on her finances. To make extra money over Christmas, Izzy has taken a job as an assistant to a man that lives alone. Little did she know that the decision to take this job would forever change her life. Derek Croft is a children’s book author and lives alone in his family’s home which is more like a castle. Derek’s staff of two is on vacation for the holidays and they have surprised him with hiring an assistant to help him while they are away. When Izzy shows up at his front door, he wants nothing more than to send her away but somehow he can’t bring himself to do it. Derek also has pain in his past. He and his father were abandoned by his mother. They never knew why, she just disappeared one day. Even though his father eventually moved on, Derek has never gotten over the loss and betrayal. He will never allow himself to be hurt like that. As a result, he is as prickly as a porcupine. But all it takes is one sweet, happy assistant to start breaking through his icy exterior and revealing the man hiding underneath. Derek’s stepmother wants Derek to find a wife and is trying to help by introducing him to women. To fend off her matchmaking over Christmas, he asks Izzy to pose as his live in girlfriend. But it doesn’t take long for make believe to soon become more. “Something about her was bewitching him. She was sweet, and calm, and real. No coy secrets, no layers to unearth, just simply Izzy.” This is definitely a Beauty and the Beast retelling. Except this beast had an adorable St. Bernard dog as his best friend. Derek hasn’t celebrated Christmas since his mother left. But Izzy is determined to bring Christmas to Derek’s castle. To make this the best Christmas he and his family has ever had. “They were from different worlds, and once this charade was over, she’d go back to hers, and he’d forget she ever existed. That’s what people typically did to her anyway.” Neither Derek or Izzy felt they deserved true happiness. Even as their feelings developed, both were just waiting for the other shoe to drop so to speak. Or perhaps looking for an excuse to force an ending before they could get hurt. Can they truly start a relationship, give their hearts, if they haven’t let go of their pasts? “When a woman like Izzy came around, you didn’t let her walk out of your life without a fight.” First, I fell in love with the cover. This is a new to me author. It was a very sweet Christmas fairy tale. And I did enjoy it. But, in all honesty, it didn’t “Wow” me like I hoped it would. The characters were adorable and of course, so was the dog. But I never got the tummy flutters or the fast heart beats that I wanted. The sexy scenes were a fade to black sort so it’s not a steamy book. So, I was just a bit underwhelmed. But as I said, it was still enjoyable.
This is a fantastic sweet read that had me smiling all the way through. It's very well written with some amazing characters and a heartwarming storyline. Perfect for the holiday season with the underlying message of how love and hope can heal old wounds.. Events of the past have hardened Derek Croft's heart. He's reclusive, gruff, and absolutely does not want the pretty, happy temp his staff has arranged for him. Izzy Simon knows Derek doesn't want her around but she needs this job and refuses to let his sour demeanor to ruin things for her. So it would seem they are stuck with each other. For the next two weeks anyway! Or longer????? Definitely a book I think you would enjoy. I highly recommend it.
Izzy could use some extra money, which is why she works for a temp agency during her time off from the library, where she has a regular job at. She's being sent to a children's book author to fill in as his PA, a surprise from his staff. However, when she arrives Derek, the author, doesn't seem to be happy with her presence. He was hoping for solitude and undisturbed writing time instead of a happy Christmas atmosphere in his home. He's about to send Izzy away when he realizes there's something she can do for him that would help him immensely. First Derek asks Izzy to leave and then he wants her to stay. His mixed signals are confusing, but Derek has an idea. His family keeps interfering in his personal life and are trying to set him up with women they think he'll like. That is never the case though. Now that Izzy is there he can tell them his girlfriend is living with him. Will she agree to this? Is Derek even prepared to decorate his house and give in to Izzy's cheerful holiday preparations just to be safe from his family's meddling? What will happen when his plans appear to be working a little too well? The Bookworm and the Beast is a wonderful festive story. Izzy is a sweetheart with so many good personality traits. She doesn't have much confidence though and it's difficult for her to trust people. She doesn't know how to read social situations and this makes her insecure. Derek isn't too good at speaking his mind, so that leads to fabulous confusing situations. This is being combined with plenty of sparks between them. Izzy and Derek are both amazing people and they definitely deserve to be happy. I couldn't read the story quickly enough to discover if they'd find true love with each other. Charlee James has written a great cheerful story. I loved her warm and vivid writing style. She makes her characters come to life incredibly well. She knows exactly how to put the right amount of layers in their personality and that made them interesting to read about. I love stories about grumpy men and endearing naive women and The Bookworm and the Beast is definitely a good one. I really enjoyed reading this enchanting Christmas story.
3.5**** A sweet simple story with hints of Beauty and the Beast. And a lovely dog named Atticus and a feisty Gram. I loved how similar and understanding Derek and Izzy were to one another. Their kindred spirits clicked immediately, despite the hard shells both tried to hide behind. Their romance was a fairy tale, complete with love, family, a sense of betrayal, and forgiveness. For me, this book had such a sad dark feel to it as I read. Not in a bad way, but you could feel how the characters felt, their loneliness, rejection, feeling alone. But the ending was a happy one and the epilogue heartwarming. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
This book is very much a fairy tale, with a sweet and innocent – but insecure – librarian who, with the help of a little Christmas magic, tames the savage (ok, more like rude and grumpy) beast. It’s not a direct retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but contains elements that someone of a certain age (cough cough) would recognize from the animated Disney version. There’s a big old castle, a library, a forbidden room, and weirdest of all, wolves. Izzy was practically a Disney princess. She’s sweet, innocent, and impoverished, and an absolute fountain of Christmas spirit – or, as Derek calls her, “Santa’s evil elf.” Derek, on the other hand, was quite the beast. He was so rude and unlikeable, at first, that I had a hard time warming up to him. Both Izzy and Derek had serious abandonment issues that led to roadblocks in their relationship. Izzy couldn’t believe that anyone would actually love her, and Derek was too afraid of abandonment and betrayal to love anyone. My favorite character, however, was Derek’s St. Bernard, Atticus! “No matter how friendly they got, she had to protect her heart. They were from different worlds, and once this charade was over, she’d go back to hers, and he’d forget she ever existed. That’s what people typically did to her anyway.” Unfortunately, I had a lot of problems that took me out of the fairy tale. The major one was that their relationship started while they were still boss and employee, and the power dynamic was very uneven. Derek ends up paying her to pretend to be his girlfriend, and while I did feel like their relationship was consensual and organic, it still left me with a bit of an icky feeling. Also, the ending felt very rushed. Without getting into spoilers, I felt like the main conflict was not resolved properly. What Derek did to Izzy was very hurtful, and her feelings for him aside, I didn’t feel like he properly demonstrated that he wouldn’t do it again before she pretty much unconditionally accepted him back. Overall, this is a cute and sweet holiday romance, especially if you can overlook some of the issues I had with it. If you’re looking for a sweet holiday fairy tale, then this is your book! I received an advanced copy from the publisher in return for an honest review.
To help her financial situation, Izzy accepts a temporary job as an assistant during the holiday. She was expecting a older gentleman, portly and balding. What she got was a grumpy writer that fired her blood and made her question the way she saw herself. Derek’s staff had the holidays off and he didn’t need anyone to replace them. When his stepmother buts pressure on him to meet a woman of her choosing he quickly takes advantage of the situation that has landed him with a woman that refuses to leave him alone. Izzy helps Derek to open up his heart to the holiday as well as her and in the process finds herself falling for a man who can’t allow her into his life. This was a sweet, fast paced read that I enjoyed. It is a fade to black in the steamy department. These characters are both wounded from their pasts, each waiting for the other to reopen those old wounds. It has a touch of Beauty and the Beast to it which I liked but not enough to mirror it. All in all, a very nice holiday read. This is an honest review of an advanced copy provided by NetGalley and Entangled Publishing. Dual POV Safe – no ow/om drama No apparent triggers
This book is sure to put you in the holiday spirit! It’s also a cute spinoff of Beauty and the Beast. Both of the main characters have had really crappy one or another parent issues. That leaves a sting on yourself and what you believe about yourself. For Derek, his mom just up and left him and his dad when he was young. She was a great mom but just left one day. His dad and him kind of stopped celebrating Christmas. His dad finally moved on and got remarried. Derek never moved on and is a grumpy man who wants nothing to do with people. Funny thing is that he is a children’s author. He has the ability to nurture and thrive, he just chose not to. For Izzy, her dad was never in the picture and her mom just dumped her off at her Gram’s house. Her mom sees her Gram but has never contacted her daughter or invited her to her home. That has to hurt! When Izzy sees Derek, she is drawn to him. And he is drawn to her too. He just won’t admit it. Derek lives in this castle. I mean seriously a castle. It has an amazing library and a ballroom and a huge kitchen with everything you can imagine. Well, I am assuming as much in the kitchen. And a big cuddly St. Bernard named Atticus! Anyway, a little lie has both of them wanting to move forward and scared to death at the same time. Izzy says yes to pretending to be his girlfriend only because she needs money to help her Gram’s senior living housing. Izzy says if she is going to play this charade for Christmas then he is going to have to decorate for Christmas. And go shopping. Well all of that certainly can melt anyone’s heart! I love the precious moments they have together of creating memories of this Christmas! The story is sweet and of course, the beast has his moment when he roars at the bookworm and she flees. But he realizes what a fool he was! Izzy also had some insecurities and didn’t think herself to be good enough or good enough to be loved in return. That is just sad! Together they learn to heal each other! If you like Christmas and decorating, shopping for gifts three days before Christmas, green pickle ornaments, St Bernard dogs, wolves, Xena the Warrior Princess, car accidents, families that love you, dysfunctional families, snowball fights, and falling in love, than this might be for you.
I received an advanced reader’s edition of this book in exchange for an honest review. If you're at all like me, then you LOVE the Hallmark Christmas movies! Even though the plots all follow the same flow (as my husband says), I can't resist the heart-warming love stories and happy endings. The Bookworm and the Beast is basically a Hallmark Christmas movie in book form. What could be better than that?! (Because we all know the book is always better than the movie.) It tells the story of Izzy, a struggling librarian who takes on a temp position for the Holidays, and Derek, a well-to-do children's book author who is grumpy, gruff, and basically a Grinch. Izzy shows up at Derek's doorstep one evening completely to his surprise (he didn't ask for an assistant), but he soon comes up with a plan to have her pretend to be his girlfriend to appease his family when they visit for Christmas. As the weeks draw closer to Christmas, Derek and Izzy get to know one another. Izzy helps Derek find his Christmas spirit again, with snowball fights and decorating his massive home. They both even bond over the fact that their mothers left them both at a young age. I won't spoil what the hitch in their story is, but rest assured that much like a classic Hallmark movie, this story has a happy ending. It was a wonderful read and perfect for this time of year! This book really got me into the holiday spirit, and I just melted reading through Izzy and Derek's story. I would definitely recommend this book to any Hallmark Christmas movie lover! It is a fast read too!
As a reader, for me the stories that are the most memorable are the ones that thrive on simplicity. Whether it be a nod to a favorite classic tale or an inclusion of a few of my favorite subjects, what appeals to me most is that the tale is realistic and the characters can make me as a reader stop and take notice. The Bookworm and the Beast fit all my criteria for wonderful reading. Izzy and Derek are relatable individualLy and as a couple. In times of frustration and despair is when a person is at their strongest. With a little time, a lot of love and a bit of holiday magic, Ms. James captures more than the imagination, she puts the emotions on notice as well.
As an avid reader, I am always looking for new authors and am glad I gave Ms James a try. The story centers around Izzy Simon and Derek Croft. Izzy is a young woman whose life has not been easy. Her Mom abandoned her , she never knew her father, has had bad experiences in love , takes care of her Gram, who took her in as a child, has a low self-esteem, and now is desperately needing money to pay for her Grams’ stay at a senior center. Derek is an author who even with his wealth, has his own set of abandonment issues. They meet when Derek’s home’s caretakers, pay a temp to help Derek in the 2 weeks they will be away and feel Derek needs help in his home. What started out as a refusal of the help, morphs into a “make believe fiancee” . The story was heartbreaking, but also heartwarming. Derek and Izzy have their own set of insecurities, hurtful feelings, and fears of letting anyone into their hearts. Mix in an adorable dog, and you have a sweet and touching romantic story. Glad I gave this author a chance and one I will keep reading. I was gifted a copy of this book. The opinions expressed are solely my own.